The Silent Season of a Hero (Walker & Company, 2010)
The New York Times Book Review
"Gay Talese’s outré method of framing and developing his ‘factual short stories’ was as groundbreaking as it is still arresting. As this marvel of an anthology makes manifest, Talese transformed sportswriting into literature that is both serious and delightful."
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“What happens when the crowds stop cheering? In The Silent Season of a Hero, Talese takes this trite question and gives serious consideration to the arc of sports stardom. His profiles of sports figures published over a period of 45 years offer us vivid emotional close-ups. . . . Talese's keen observation of details, his natural empathy and his privileged access make for essays that kept me solidly entertained. . . . Talese does a superb job of . . . humanizing these larger-than-life figures. This is an impressive collection.”
The New Republic
“Talese is, famously, one of the founders of the movement of lively and literary reportage known as the New Journalism, and one of the most imitated journalistic craftsmen of the last century. His writing about sports, mostly at the New York Times and Esquire, is particularly fine, and it is good to have it collected in this fascinating book, which is full of elegantly observed moments.”
Time Out Chicago
"Full of timeless firsthand accounts from the notebook of an astute reporter, one who changed journalism forever, spanning six decades, 'looking where other reporters weren’t—in the corners, in the shadows.'"
"Reading The Silent Season of a Hero, a new collection of sports writing by the venerable Gay Talese, is a bit like watching time-lapse photography of a rose blooming. In the course of this 308-page book, we see a raw teenage sportswriter become a college columnist with obvious talent, then a polished reporter for a daily newspaper, and finally blossoming into a master of the long narrative form once favored by our best magazines.
It’s thrilling to witness this process of maturation. . . . [These stories are] quirky, sharply observed, beautifully written."
“Talese may just be the best magazine writer of his generation. His type of literary journalism — deeply researched, nuanced and painstakingly wrought — seems to be, sadly, a thing of the past. . . . This new collection focuses on Talese’s sports writing. The big, memorable stories . . . still seem fresh, perhaps more so now because they have some real context. What makes this collection so wonderful is the inclusion of a number of Talese’s earlier sports pieces . . . and the excellent commentary sprinkled into the book by Washington Post staff writer, Michael Rosenwald…. This new Talese collection, at the very least, helps the reader understand his sports writing career, its influences and its beautiful progression.”
"Going through this collection of nearly 40 sports pieces, dating from 1948 to 2006 and reprinted mostly from The New York Times, readers should be forgiven if they forgot, or never knew, just how daring and original Talese's sports-writing efforts were in their day, his prose distinctive for its precision, its silkiness, its attention to important details that lesser journalists routinely overlooked, and its empathy for losers. Innovations aside, what's most impressive is how well these pieces still hold together, whether it's a group of vignettes on former boxing champ Floyd Patterson, an offbeat profile of referee Ruby Goldstein ("the loneliest guy in boxing"), a prophetic 1951 piece on one of the nation's earliest sports agents, and a look at a rare Yankees season (1979) on the road to nowhere. Good stuff from a guy who once described his style as 'the art of hanging out.'"
The Barnes & Noble Review
Los Angeles Times
"I always wanted to be a short story writer," Talese tells the Los Angeles Times. "To tell stories about characters, and develop them in terms of scenes. In Sports, you could be loser. It was one of the toy departments. . . . So I was the first guy to get in there and do these little pieces I wanted to write, like short stories."
The New York Times Style magazine
"Talese calls his reporting style 'the art of hanging out,' and it feels that deceptively easy, as if any one of us could have written what he wrote if only we’d been there. Never mind the effort that must have gone into earning his subjects' trust, coaxing them to pull out the thoughts they keep in a lockbox. . . . Talese made athletes human."
New York magazine
New York magazine Approval Matrix